April 1, 2023

Pro-Seeds Development Association, Forest Foundation Grantee, Discovers New Species in Palawan

Pro-Seeds Development Association, a grantee of Forest Foundation Philippines, discovered a new tree species in Palawan.

Helicia danlagunzadii is a flowering treelet belonging to the Proteaceae family. It grows up to 4 meters tall, with bright yellowish florets. This is the sixth species from genus Helicia recorded in the Philippines, with only three mature individuals found in a single population during the floristic survey. It is also a close relative of the macadamia tree.

Found in the mossy forest of Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL), it has been assessed as a critically endangered species because of its limited number. The MMPL is the largest terrestrial protected area in Palawan, covering 120,457 hectares of land. 

The discovery of H. danlagunzadii was led by Pastor Malabrigo Jr., Senior Botanist of the Association, together with University of the Philippines Los Baños Researchers Arthur Glenn Umali, Gerald Eduarte, John Ryan Navidad, and Adriane Tobias. They officially described the new species in the Philippine Journal of Science

Since 2019, Forest Foundation has been working with Pro-Seeds Development Association in conducting a floristic and faunal survey of the MMPL. The results of these surveys will serve as inputs to the MMPL’s management plan. A field guide, documenting the results of the floristic surveys, will also be launched in June 2023, in line with the anniversary of the MMPL proclamation.

In the past years, three other new species in the MMPL have also been discovered and recorded through this project, Medinilla simplicymosa, Scaevola subalpina, and Pinanga lepidota. With these recent discoveries, the MMPL represents a significant contribution to the known pool of Philippine and global biodiversity. 

This project is also supported by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, MMPL Protected Area Management Office (PAMO), and Palawan Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO).